Do you operate from the philosophy - you should do what you feel? If you do, you are not alone. Most of us allow this lie to keep us from the results we desire - whether it’s weight, energy, mental clarity, health or relationships. This Do What You Feel lie is at the root of why we:
- choose convenience over healthy whole foods
- give into the unhealthy temptations at work or at home
- are inconsistent in our exercise routine
- make time for our favorite tv shows and stalking Facebook rather than getting a good night’s sleep
- destroy connection and intimacy in relationships by being grumpy, judgemental, controlling and mean
Clients often probe me at the beginning of our coaching relationships with the question, “when am I going to feel like doing x, y and z, Amber?” A closer look at the excuses in their lives shows exactly why they don’t have what they desire - they are all centered waiting for a feeling that makes them want to:
- eat healthy
- food prep
- budget their time and money
- drink more water
- stop smoking
- eliminate unnecessary stressors
- create boundaries with the toxic people in their lives
- say no to excessive alcohol
- be patient and loving to people who annoy them
They want me to provide an elixir for some fountain of unstoppable and consistent motivation that will make them feel like doing what they should be doing. I hate to break it to them (and you), but it doesn’t exist. If it did, I would be a billionaire.
Don’t misunderstand me. I definitely have days or even weeks where I feel like doing what is best for my health. You know, days like January 1st or the week or two before vacation. But those external motivators are few and far between to be honest. The truth is that being driven by our emotions (combined with a lack of self-control) sets us up for instability in every area of our lives. We may be told by the world that we need to act in alignment with our emotions (because it’s our privilege to do so), but there is evidence all around us that proves that this strategy doesn’t produce the joy, calm, love, acceptance, success, intimacy and health most of us are searching for.
Think about it. Have you ever allowed your “emotions” to overtake you as you said something that made someone feel insignificant, worthless, unappreciated or judged? Have you ever reacted to your children or spouse in a way that was downright mean because you were feeling frustrated, tired, unattractive or overwhelmed? Have you ever made a decision to overeat, over drink or over sleep because you felt defeated, fat, lonely or depressed? Did you ever not take an opportunity to experience something new because you felt inadequate, fearful, self-conscious or unworthy? Living a life emotionless is impossible, so it’s important for us to practice self-control and put our emotions in their proper place. Self-control allows us to feel and honor our emotions without acting upon them in a way that hurts others or ourselves.
What if we choose to believe - I do what is best for myself and those around me despite how I feel because it is more important to honor, protect and strengthen my relationship with God, myself and others than to act out of a temporary feeling.
What is the worst thing that could happen? Let’s think about this. Perhaps you feel like putting on your over-sized comfy clothes after work and grabbing a tub of ice cream as you binge watch Netflix. But let’s say in this scenario - you decide to believe that how you feel doesn’t have to dictate what you do - so you go to the gym instead for a workout (even though you don’t feel like it). And while you are there you actually start to enjoy yourself. You connect with some awesome people who made the same decision you did that day. You drive home and chug your water - opting out of going through Starbucks for a coffee. You then decide to put those comfy clothes on after a long hot shower and cuddle up with some healthy egg tacos and then hit play on the next episode on Netflix. BAAM! Emotions conquered.
Because of the one decision to embrace self-discipline and self-control and go against the I don’t feel like it mentality, you will actually cultivate and feel positive emotions. You may feel accomplished, proud, powerful, happy, calm, in control, healthy, etc. You start to realize you just may be more powerful than your feelings. And that my friend, is how you begin to create beliefs, actions and habits that will ultimately change your life. It’s not going to be because you feel like it - it’s because you choose it!
Emotions are much more powerful when they come from our actions, rather than as a precursor to our actions. Begin to assess each situation with the question, “How is this action or reaction going to feel after I do it? What will be the result(s)?” versus living your life from your emotions where you will find yourself spending a lot of time asking, “How am I going to fix or explain what I just did from my emotions?” This small shift in perspective makes all the difference.